Etymology, Idioms & Blogs

Hit the ground running… have I done this? Not really.

Consider this idiom: A parachuting reference? Jumping off a train? Out of a car? I googled the etymology and found It may come from troops dropped into a combat zone, from stowaways.” Ignoring the weird punctuation, I tried to find out what a ‘stowaway’ is. This usage is not the person who snags a free ride, this stowaway is a thing. Or maybe a place.

Google “stowaway,” I came up empty. A dozen internet searches and I even dug out my eighties-era unabridged dictionary. Its cracked three-inch binding uneasy on my tender hands. The onion-skin pages wrinkled from years of hard use. Nothing in there either. I don’t know what it means to be dropped, from stowaways.

But this I know: to hit the ground running when you’re falling at velocity is binary–you either do it or you wipe out.

Possibly, it refers to G.I.s dropped into the surf, as they were during the World War Two invasion of Normandy: storming the beach, wading to shore under a hail of bullets and bombs. When you hit dry-ground, you’re already running. Running, or you die. Statistically, you probably die anyway.

Hit the ground running isn’t the proper idiom. Failure is too severe. Caught flat-footed is a better fit. It calls up images of an inattentive athlete suddenly realizing that the play has passed him by.

This is me.

Yesterday, I realized that the pace of life picked up. I suppose this happened weeks ago, but I only just noticed. When I wasn’t watching, my life began to resemble everyone else’s.

Since my kids were born, I’ve lived a mellow life. My job was easy and predictable. No one in my house was over-scheduled, especially not me. My kids were never involved in the relentless travel-sports that plagued the households of my peers. I spent no time in my car. No late hours at work. I didn’t need a cell phone because there was no where I needed to be. I was blessed with simplicity.

This has changed. As teenagers, my kids have discovered team sports. Sophie joined the rugby team and Eli tried out for soccer. My job, new since December, has an unpredictability to it. I’m suddenly finding myself leaving work an hour past quitting time simply to drive to a field and wait for a kid to finish practice. I break out the iPhone I now carry in my pocket, and I fish through WordPress looking for a blog to read.

There aren’t as many as there once were. Do you ever wonder what happens to some of the bloggers you follow? Some dwindle away, like me, posting less frequently and more sporadically, life over-taking their free time. This change is evident in their posts. You learn they are now sitting at soccer fields rather than drinking coffee, writing blog posts. But some bloggers disappear altogether. And all at once. In a comments-exchange this week, I was directed to a post about what happens to your blog when you die.

This got me thinking of my blogging friend Charlotte. She always commented on my posts, always more encouraging than I thought reasonable. She posted a couple of times per week; had plans to monetize her blog. She was already exchanging (honest) reviews for free stuff. One day she posted that she was pregnant, and then she never posted again. She never commented on my blog again. This was almost a year ago. Did she die? Or just decide that blogging was no longer important in her life.

Sitting in my car, the minutes rapidly slipping beyond when practice was scheduled to end, I realize I’ve hit middle-age in my blogging life. Many of the relationships I created when I was new to blogging have drifted away, petered out. And I’ve done a poor job seeking new blogs to fill the void.

Creating blogging relationships is tiring stuff. First and foremost, the writing has to be excellent. And the subject matter needs to be interesting. And I hope to find a blogger who wants to read my blog as well. But most importantly, when I comment, the blogger needs to respond. Commenting takes courage. You put a piece of yourself out on display. When I get no response, I’m left feeling embarrassed… wishing I could delete my comment… which I can’t… because commenting on WordPress is final.

So I’m caught flat-footed. Wishing I had more blogging friends to while away the blocks of time my new chauffeuring duties have created. As I work to rebuild my WordPress Reader, maybe you can offer me a shortcut. Which blogs do you find the most satisfying to read.  

18 thoughts on “Etymology, Idioms & Blogs

  1. Oh crap! “It turns out social media is crammed with dead people.” Now I need an executor for my online work? Damnation!

    I wholeheartedly agree with you: “But most importantly, when I comment, the blogger needs to respond.” This just happened to me yesterday. I posted a thoughtful response that I spent considerable time crafting. No response. Damnation again.


    • Brian, I considered not responding as a stab at ironic humor, but dismissed that as just mean. I know people blog for different reasons, and I suppose some truly don’t care if they’re read or not (something we’ve all said at some point), but I feel it’s mere politeness to at least acknowledge a comment with a like. And if you don’t like the comment, it would be respectful to explain why you don’t like it. Personally, if I read a post, I’m going to hit like or comment. I see it as my share of the exchage,


      • I can’t imagine any reason to post if one does not care about being read. I know people say that, but….

        I’m glad you skipped the irony. I would have misunderstood, I think.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Blogging definitely feels like the sort of thing that takes time and patience to take part in! I feel like I’m one of those rare millenials who still does longform online writing, and it takes a lot less energy to comment on someone’s Instagram than on someone’s blog. This makes blogs vital expressions of passion and meaning, though, in a way that can’t be achieved on other platforms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we’re a rare breed, those of us who will sit for ten minutes or so reading the musings of a stranger. I wish more people would give it a try. there’s a lot to be learned on wordpress.


  3. I always read your blogs and most of them I like. I’m not a blogger and Keith talks about becoming one, but I’ve a feeling he’d either not like some of the responses and quit or expect me to take over which is out of the question. Keep blogging, Jeff, I appreciate your doing so and look forward to reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s a lot not to like about blogging. For me, it is always double-edged. Good and bad, rewarding and distressing. Thanks for your feedback and thanks for continuing to read.


  4. You know, I noticed the same thing. The people I enjoyed reading and talking to, in exchanged comments, had disappeared. So I started from scratch again, focused on the word prompt and then milled around. I found a couple so far – blogs that I enjoy reading and exchanging comments with.
    Alice Funk Farie – has a story and enjoyable to read and comment with – brings music to the posts as well:
    Learn Fun Facts – well, enjoyable to read:
    Viola Bleu – writer and avid reader of blogs. Will give a good comment and since she reads a lot of blogs, she mentions a lot that she recommends. Not all are my thing, but I have found a couple I enjoy
    I have a couple of others, but not sure they are your cup of tea.
    My blog is coming up for renewal and I am not paying for it this time. Going to go for the free one. Not sure what will happen with all of that. May start over and try to not limit my subject material to autism. If the blog goes down and I start over, I will be sure to give you a follow, a read and a comment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll check out your links. Thanks! Starting over would be a bold move, but a total rebranding might be fun. Sometimes I feel like I need a fresh start as well. I think you have a LOT to say *off* the topic of autism, and you would likely hit a wider audience with a different name. But with that said, everything you write will ultimately be shaded by autism, just like everything I write is actually about OCD.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As fr as I know, my kids have never read a thing I’ve written. Not long ago, we got in the inevitable conversation of which parents had smoked “weed” (apparently no one calls it pot anymore). My kids were astounded to hear that I had–and I think they were equally shocked that Susan hasn’t. One day, possibly, they will read my book and catch on to what a f— up their dad really was.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s awesome! My kids intermittently read my blog… which I forget of course. They will throw out some obscure fact at me and I will be shocked until they remind me it was in my blog. In my mind my blog is going into some random void of things no one will read. I forget that some people will actually read it.


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